September 3, 2023 | « back

Remembering Jimmy Buffett

Jimmy Buffett invented his own character, which, in a sense we all do: invent, assemble, inherit, or fall into our inner identity. But Jimmy was the founder of an actual tribe: tens of thousands of us made our way to where he was holding court, just to be near him.

People say he was a lord of life and that’s true: somewhere between Falstaff and the pirate, Jean Laffite. But to me, my friend Jimmy Buffet was a real example of a man: no puffed up defensive macho bullshit, but a model of how to enjoy the great gift of being alive. And that’s what he shared so generously with us: a positive enthusiasm at being here. That so few of us knew how ill he was is essential Jimmy Buffett: he had no intention of burdening us with his illness.

He told me a story about him and Savannah wake surfing in a harbor somewhere: there was a huge freighter leaving port and Jimmy got the captain on the radio. The guy was a ParrotHead and he adjusted his course and speed to give Jimmy the perfect ride. And what a ride it’s been.

So long old pal.

~ James Taylor

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images